Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Christ, Another Damn Reagan Post
Back in 1998, when the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things (officially known as the Reagan Legacy Project, dedicated to getting something named after Ronald Reagan in every county in the country) succeeded in getting National Airport in Washington renamed for Reagan, The Nation's David Corn compiled a list called "66 Things to Think About When Flying Into Reagan National Airport." It's worth reading today, when we're being conned into believing that everybody loved Reagan and his every deed was aimed at restoring America's greatness.

There is one surefire way to make Reagan look pretty good, however, even to the likes of me--compare him with George W. Bush. At TomPaine.com, former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet explains how conservatives are wrong when they contend that Bush is Reagan's ideological heir. He's adopted some of Reagan's broad themes, but has pursued them with a dogmatic inflexibility born partly out of his simple lack of knowledge about how the real world works. Reagan, the ex-New Deal Democrat who knew hard times as a young man, was under no such handicap. Writing about economic issues, Kusnet says: "Reagan was less reckless than Bush because he never completely lost touch with working-class Americans. Writing in his diary, he shrewdly observed: 'The press is trying to portray me as trying to undo the New Deal. I’m trying to undo the Great Society.' He understood that Great Society programs targeted towards the poor were unpopular, but New Deal programs benefiting the broad working class continued to enjoy strong support. Unlike Bush, Reagan would never have tried to tamper with working people’s well-being by privatizing Social Security or tampering with time-and-a-half pay for overtime work." Reagan's flexibility also made him better suited to manage foreign policy than Bush.

In the end, while Kusnet is very critical of Reagan, the net effect of his article is this: Were Ronald Reagan running against Bush today in a straight-up election, I'd vote for Reagan in a heartbeat.

Me and Mr. Johnson: John Kerry has promised to challenge Bush everywhere during the 2004 campaign, and it must be true. A year ago, conservatives went ga-ga over Bush's seemingly sock-stuffed flight suit during the "Mission Accomplished" stunt. According to Richard Goldstein at the Village Voice, the Kerry team has learned the value of packaging, too.

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